Pet Travel Products
Manufacturers are making pet travel easier than ever with innovative, new products.
With summer approaching, pet parents will be embarking on trips alongside their furry friends. While there’s been a lot of discussion within the travel market about carriers that meet airline regulations, there’s also been a strong focus on designing products that make car journeys more convenient.
Coastal Pet Products, Inc., for example, has a dual focus on plane and car trips when it comes to travel products. The family-owned company operates out of an 18,000-sq.-ft. facility in Alliance, Ohio.
“We offer crash-tested auto harnesses, booster and backpack style carriers, airline compatible carriers, auto tethers and vehicle liners,” says Lindsy Argenti, marketing manager at Coastal Pet.
Argenti says the company designs its travel products with two things in mind: inclusion and convenience. With pets being a part of their customers’ lives and families, Coastal Pet wants to make sure that’s easier than ever to bring them places.
“Having one harness that can go from car to park with the snap of a leash means one less piece of equipment to travel with,” says Argenti. “A backpack that looks great and feels comfortable means you don’t have to worry about your smaller pet getting trampled when exploring the busy city streets on foot.”
The company offers the Bergan Backpack Pet Carrier, which has a mesh opening to allow visibility and padded straps for comfort. It even includes expandable side pockets for treats and accessories. Another option for air travel is the Bergan Comfort Carrier, which is compliant with airline regulations. The company offers multiple varieties of washable, fabric seat protectors that keep cars clean.
Coastal Pet also makes crash-tested harnesses, which have been highlighted through its Paws to Click initiative.
“Restraining a pet is a great way to minimize distractions and keep everyone safe,” says Argenti.
Sleepypod, a manufacturer based in Pasadena, Calif., has also incorporated a focus on car safety harnesses into its travel product selection. The company designed the Pet Passenger Restraint System (PPRS) to effectively secure a pet in a vehicle and restrict movement that results from a sudden vehicle stop or frontal collision. All of Sleepypod’s carriers and harnesses include PPRS components. The Sleepypod Safety Test Program involves crash-testing the company’s products using the standard implemented for child safety restraints. The company even uses crash-test dog dummies for more accurate testing of pet products.
“Our crash-tested and certified carriers and harnesses are the safest car travel restraints available,” says Michael Leung, the company’ co-founder and lead product designer.
Leung considers an emphasis on safety the fastest-growing trend in the pet travel category. The company offers Yummy travel bowls, which are made from baby safe, FDA food-grade, BPA-free silicone that is freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe. The company’s flagship product is its mobile pet bed.
“We adopted a kitten and had to travel to many places with her. We looked for a bed that travels like a carrier but could not find one in the marketplace, so we created one out of need,” says Leung. “Our cat traveled so well in her mobile bed, and we decided to start a company to produce pet travel essentials.”
The Sleepypod mobile bed comes in Mini and Medium varieties. With a removable mesh dome, the product easily converts from a carrier to a bed. Its plush bedding is machine-washable and it fits under most airplane seats.
“An effective pet travel product is one that provides safety, comfort and convenience,” says Leung.
The travel category doesn’t just include carriers and harnesses. Pet product manufacturers are looking to produce travel accessories that go beyond just carriers and harnesses. These products can make travel easier once someone arrives in a new location with their pet in tow.
Like Sleepypod with its Yummy bowls, Coppell, Texas-based Dexas is also trying to make mealtime easier for pets on the go. The company introduced the Snack-DuO, a reusable bottle that has two side-by-side chambers for food and water. It comes with an attached collapsible cup.
“Convenience and collapsibility have always been key to us,” says Jeff Logan, director of marketing for Dexas. “Durable materials are also important, particularly when pets and their owners are engaged in outdoor adventures like hiking, camping, trail running and water sports.”
The company also offers the MudBuster, a product that uses silicone bristles to scrub paws clean after outdoor adventures. The latest generation of the product features a screw-on travel lid that allows for pre-loading of water and shampoo.
“It is also a great way to keep the muddy water and mess inside the MudBuster in case it can’t be emptied and cleaned right away,” says Logan. “The new MudBuster also features some distinctive new colors like a slate gray.”
Dexas released a new line of toys called off-leash. Each toy includes a carabiner clip with a special key that attaches the two to a leash or backpack in order to make it easier to bring toys on trips.
After a long day of adventure, pets also need a place to rest. Mahar Manufacturing, located in Van Buren, Ark., makes pet travel cots under the brand 4Legs4Pets. The lightweight cots are easy to transport and assemble. The company only uses U.S.-made raw materials and does all of its manufacturing in its Arkansas factory. It offers a wide range of colors and sizes, and can even print custom logos on the cot bedding.
“The breathable fabric is comfortable and the 5-in. elevation is also good for short-legged breeds and arthritic dogs,” says Pamla Mahar, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Keep a ‘traveling’ cot in the motor home and vehicle trunk at all times—that’s one less thing to worry about.”
P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You) offers products that help furry friends get their best rest during travel. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company specializes in products designed for short trips or weekend adventures. The manufacturer released the Scout & About outdoor line, which includes a lightweight dog tent that’s less than 5 lbs.
“This pop-up tent is perfect for the beach, camping or even dog events where pets just need a safe, shady place to hang out,” says Bill Parsons, sales manager at P.L.A.Y. “The tent pops up and breaks down in one simple motion and packs in the included travel bag, so customers can spend more time out and about with their dogs instead of threading the poles of a tent.”
The Scout & About line includes toys that can make outdoor trips with pets even more fun. The Nova Stick comes in two sizes and has an inner core that creates an engaging crunchy sound to encourage play. The Nova Ball has a textured surface and an opening to insert treats.
“Being outdoor enthusiasts, we are blessed to be based in California, where we can bring our pets outdoor almost year-round and we noticed a lack in functional, durable and tastefully designed products for outdoorsy pet parents like ourselves,” says Parsons.
Other travel products that provide relaxation opportunities for pets include P.L.A.Y.’s Original and Horizon Chill Pads that act as portable cushions or serve as bedding in a carrier or crate. They even come in multiple designs. The company prides itself on creating functional, easy-to-clean and eco-friendly products that are also stylish.
Making the Sale
When it comes promoting travel products in store, Parsons recommends that retailers take advantage of manufacturers’ merchandising tools.
“We offer retailers a free, USA-made Scout & About Wooden Display Stand for purchase with a starter kit of products,” says Parsons. “This way, our retailers can effectively showcase all of our fun outdoor products in a compact space.”
Parsons also suggests that in addition to educating their employees on travel products’ selling points, retailers should have their staff model them so customers can see them in action.
“At trade shows, our staff wears our Scout & About Training Pouches to show off the features, like its built-in squeaker and discreet back zip pocket for money and cards,” says Parsons.
Logan says retailers should have a dedicated section in the store where the travel products are merchandised together.
“Collapsible travel cups are a great impulse item as well, so those can be placed on clip strips in the food aisle and also near the wire kennels, big crates and even the leashes,” he adds.
Combining merchandising strategies like these with an advanced understanding of product features is the perfect way to promote summertime sales of pet products. PB